McLaughlin College Lunch Talks Series serves up special panel to start term

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues this year in a virtual format via Zoom.

Students who attend six or more Lunch Talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

The series begins this year on Sept. 21 with ceremonies and a special panel recognizing the United Nations International Day of Peace.

James Simeon
James Simeon

The International Day of Peace is observed around the world on Sept. 21. The UN has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire. 2020’s theme is “Shaping Peace Together.”

This year, a tireless virus threatens health, security and ways of life around around the world as COVID-19 reminds that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.

Each year, McLaughlin recognizes a number of UN International Days with special panel sessions to further the UN’s call for education and public awareness on issues related to peace. All members of the community are welcome to join the College for this special panel.

The talk will be moderated by James Simeon, head of McLaughlin College and an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at York University. Panelists include Adam Chapnick, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and deputy director of education at the Canadian Forces College; Matt Legge, peace program coordinator for Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), the peace and social justice agency of Quakers in Canada; Stephanie Stobbe, interim dean and associate professor of Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simmons College, Central Mennonite University at University of Winnipeg; and Metta Spencer, emeritus professor of sociology at University of Toronto and author of 10 editions of the Foundations of Modern Sociology textbook.

The event takes place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Those interested in attending can register here:

Upcoming talks in the series include:

  • Sept. 23: Inaugural Debate on the Future of Higher Education
  • Sept. 25: Online official book launch for Terrorism and Asylum edited by James Simeon
  • Oct. 7: Justice for Syria in German Courts

Overview of resources students need to know about

Welcome to Fall 2020
York University offers a wide variety of Orientation programming, all online in 2020, for all new and incoming students. It is a great way to meet new people, discover campus resources, and learn all about your degree while supporting a smooth transition into university.

Classes begin Sept. 9, and with the official start of the fall term at York University there’s plenty for new and returning students to do, think about and remember.

The Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development (SCLD) is available to help students get the most out of their university experience. SCLD offers everything from first-year orientation programming to community building through student clubs and leadership development.

Here’s an overview of what resources students need to know about for the beginning of the Fall 2020 term:

‘Welcome to York’ packages

Close to 7000 Welcome to York packages were sent to students all over the world
Close to 7000 Welcome to York packages were sent to students all over the world

Inspired by the success of York’s Convocation Box, SCLD and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) coordinated a new initiative with various other faculties and departments to send a “Welcome to York” package to all incoming first-year undergraduate students.

The packages varied depending on the faculties that participated and contained items, including York University branded masks, webcam covers, T-shirts, water bottles, headphones, a message to students from President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, as well as a resource for family supports.

The execution of this project was successful in large part due to collaboration with the York University Bookstore, which packaged and sent close to 7,000 packages to students all over the world. Students living in residence will find the package waiting for them when they open the doors to their room for the first time.


YU START is York’s award-winning, online New Student Transition Program and is designed to support students as they make their way through their first year of university. Through this program, students can enrol in courses, connect with fellow classmates, student leaders and student services staff and become more familiar with campus life, supports and available resources.

YU START can be customized to each student’s individual program of study and is available to all incoming students throughout the academic year. There are content guides and activities for new students for way finding, well-being, student finances, key dates, computing at York, resources that are available in the York University Libraries (outside of the in-person or virtual classroom opportunities) and more.

Welcome to Fall 2020
York University offers a wide variety of Orientation programming, all online in 2020, for all new and incoming students. It is a great way to meet new people, discover campus resources, and learn all about your degree while supporting a smooth transition into university.

Virtual Service Fair

Taking place on Sept. 8 from 1 to 4 p.m., a number of ancillary and student services will be connecting with incoming and returning students using the EasyVirtualFair platform:

The Division of Students has also collaborated with faculty and college partners on a number of pan-University initiatives.

NAVIGATE FALL 2020 website

Whether joining online from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, within Canada or around the world, the University is keenly aware of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and that online/remote learning is not how many students expected to start or return to university. To assist students with navigating this uncertainty and to help students feel connected and supported, York has created the NAVIGATE FALL 2020 website.

A full range of programs and services to support academic and professional success, well-being, personal development and building a community at York University are available for students on the NAVIGATE FALL 2020 website.

One of the key resources includes information on Peer Mentors for first-year students who will be matched to a trained upper-year student to assist in making a successful transition to university life. The mentors are from each student’s program and can help answer questions, give advice and recommend services, supports and ways to get involved. This year more than ever, with most courses and services running remotely, the support of a peer mentor is invaluable. For more information contact

Learning Skills Services

LSS is located on the second floor of Scott Library in the Learning Commons

Learning Skills Services (LSS) website is an excellent resource for students looking for help with managing their time, studying and learning more effectively, keeping up with readings and course work and achieving their academic goals. LSS connects students with workshops, peer academic coaching, the Learning Commons, COVID-19 well-being resources, the SPARK – Student Papers & Academic Research Kit and more.

Student Guide to Remote Learning

Learning Skills has also created the Student Guide to Remote Learning to help students find resources and supports to help become a successful remote learner. The guide contains tips for a successful transition to remote learning as well as for studying, completing coursework and writing exams remotely. Students can also find information on accessing campus academic and career resources, supports for well-being and how to get involved.

Welcome back! Here’s an overview of orientation events and resources for York students

Welcome to Fall 2020
York University offers a wide variety of Orientation programming, all online in 2020, for all new and incoming students. It is a great way to meet new people, discover campus resources, and learn all about your degree while supporting a smooth transition into university.

Fall term classes begin on Sept. 9, and with the official start of the new academic year at York University, there’s plenty for new and returning students to do, think about and remember.

The Orientation 2020 website, which features a countdown to the Orientation Day Welcome Ceremony, outlines a variety of virtual events for students to attend, and includes an Orientation Resource Guide listing academic and financial supports as well as information about getting involved on campus and accessing student services.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all orientation events will take place online. All orientation leaders take part in mandatory training to support the incoming class.

Welcome to Fall 2020
York University offers a wide variety of Orientation programming, all online in 2020, for all new and incoming students. It is a great way to meet new people, discover campus resources, and learn all about your degree while supporting a smooth transition into university.

Virtual Orientation 2020

Social Orientation Week runs from Sept. 5 to Sept. 13 and includes a variety of events, during which time students will get a chance to meet other first year students as well as upper year students in their respective colleges and faculties, and participate in workshops, ice breaker activities, dance parties, karaoke, mystery rooms and other exciting activities.

Additionally, consent culture workshops will be offered by each college through York’s Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education. Workshops will include a collaboration with Vanier College Productions about sex and consent focusing on the university experience during the global COVID-19 pandemic titled Consent Talks, active bystander training and a collaboration with the Building Safer Spaces Toolkit created to support the student community in organizing online events. Details on these workshops and how to attend them can be found on the Centre’s website.

For more information about the various orientation programs as well as how to register, students can visit the college or faculty Instagram links below.







New College





Students can use the College Finder tool to determine which Orientation Week affiliated with their academic program to sign up for.

Orientation Day

One of the most highly anticipated events of the week is York Orientation Day, a full day of activities on Sept. 8 where incoming students will have an opportunity to get introduced to their professors, fellow students and university resources, and get a glimpse into what their first year at York will be like.

Academic Orientation will be hosted by colleges and held from 9 to 11 a.m., followed by the 2020 York Orientation Day Welcome Ceremony, from 11 to 11:30 a.m., which will welcome the incoming undergraduate class with messages from Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor, and Lucy Fromowitz, Vice-Provost Students. The ceremony will also feature a performance from the WIBI A Capella student group, and a hype video from the York Lions athletes.

A Virtual Service Fair will take place from 1 to 4 p.m., giving incoming and returning students the chance to connect with various student and support services using the EasyVirtualFair platform.

York Orientation 2018 at the York Lions Stadium
York Orientation 2018 at the York Lions Stadium

International Student Orientation

As the designated support office for international students, York International offers crucial services and programs tailored to address the unique needs of international students. The York International team held a series of virtual orientation events designed specifically for international students between Aug. 24 and 28 via Zoom. More information can be found on the International Student Virtual Orientation website.

Orientation for Mature and Transfer Students

All newly admitted mature and transfer students are encouraged to take part in the Mature Student First-Year Experience (FYE). The program consists of a series of online stand-alone workshops aimed at supporting mature and transfer students’ transition to York. Students may participate in as few or as many sessions as they would like via Moodle, an interactive learning platform used throughout York to deliver course content online. It is available 24-7 and lets students set their own pace for learning.

Orientation for Students in Residence

Living in residence is an incredible opportunity. Housing & Conference Services and Residence Life teams are excited to welcome students to the safe and exciting residence community at York University’s Keele Campus, and are available to assist with the transition into campus life. Important information pertaining to the residence experience, the comprehensive strategy to welcome students to residence for Fall 2020 and resources to help students succeed can be found on the Move-In Information website.

Professor Allan Rock makes the case on reforming the global refugee system

Allan Rock
Allan Rock

The McLaughlin College Lunch Time Talk on March 11 featured Professor Allan Rock (PC, OOnt, QC) arguing persuasively in support of the World Refugee Council’s 2019 report, A Call to Action: Transforming the Global Refugee System, which lays out the steps necessary to strengthen the global response to forced displacement.

Allan Rock
Allan Rock

McLaughlin Head James C. Simeon introduced Rock as an incredible Canadian and one of the most distinguished and accomplished guest speakers to have appeared at the College’s Lunch Time Talk series.

Rock is president emeritus and a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, where he teaches about international humanitarian law and armed conflict and international law.

Simeon noted that Rock’s list of accomplishments are nothing short of astounding. He was elected as a member of parliament and appointed the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada in 1993, and served as minister of health in 1997 and as minister of industry and infrastructure in 2002.

Rock served as Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) in 2003 where he led the Canadian effort to secure the adoption of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine meant to safeguard populations from the so-called “atrocity crimes” such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rock also served as the special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Rock was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1988 and was acclaimed as treasurer (president and chief executive officer) of the Law Society of Ontario in 1992. He was a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School in 2017 and now serves on the World Refugee Council (WRC).

Allan Rock
Allan Rock

Rock began his remarks by pointing out there is a record level, and continuously growing number, of forcibly displaced persons in the world today due to unresolved conflicts, ongoing oppression and persecution and a warming planet.

He explained how there is little sharing of the responsibility to provide refugees with protection. Chronic under funding means that refugee services fall far short of their needs. In addition to a lack of mechanisms to hold individual states accountable for current dislocation, climate change, with its attendant rising sea levels, desertification, fires and floods, will likely force millions more people from their homes in the coming decades.

According to Rock, the current global refugee system is broken, and the WRC has identified concrete steps that can be taken to address the ongoing and escalating crisis. He outlined how responsibility sharing, accountability – for both states producing refugees and those committing crimes against them – and new financial vehicles such as “Refugee Bonds” to support host communities are critical measures that should be employed.

Ian Greene, Allan Rock, James C. Simeon, David Leyton-Brown
Ian Greene, Allan Rock, James C. Simeon, David Leyton-Brown

The talk provided an overview of how adopting principles of a common but differentiated state responsibility for refugees, redistributing assets from war criminals to benefit the displaced and establishing private equity vehicles for refugees could make a difference.

Rock also argued in favour of a Global Action Network (GAN) to promote and implement the WRC’s innovative plan of action. He explained how mid-sized states are particularly well-placed to advance a human security agenda by building such a global network for reforming the current broken global refugee system, and pointed to successful examples from the past, such as the landmines initiative that established the Ottawa Treaty.

Rock believes that a new GAN for a new global refugee system is essential to build the momentum to bring about the change necessary to create a new workable and humane global refugee protection system.

The talk concluded with a lively discussion about how to forge a new GAN to bring about changes to our global refugee system.

Those interested in getting involved with the Global Action Network for advancing the WRC’s Call for Action can visit the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s website.

Distinguished panelists debate, discuss limitations on freedom of speech at universities

A panel of highly distinguished speakers came together on March 4 to discuss and debate the question of whether there should be limits to freedom of speech at universities.

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Head of McLaughlin College and the York Collegium for Practical Ethics, the panel included: Professor Lorna Marsden, president emerita, York University (1997-2007); Professor Emeritus Saeed Rahnema, an award-winning teacher and the founding director of York’s School of Public Policy and Administration; and Justice Lorne Sossin, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and formerly, the dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and the Chair of the Freedom of Speech Working Group at York University.

The panel was chaired by University Professor Emeritus Ian Greene.

Collectively, this distinguished panel of speakers brought with them a wealth of knowledge and experience on the issue of freedom of speech, particularly, at York University.

Lorne Sossin
Lorne Sossin

Sossin explained the question came to the fore again 2018, when the Ontario Government issued a news release calling on universities and colleges to introduce free speech policies by Jan. 1, 2019, stating that universities and colleges not complying with this free speech policy requirement could be subject to a reduction in their operating grant funding.

York University already had policies that support freedom of speech, so it was a case of summarizing existing policies. The Canadian Criminal Code, Sossin noted, has provisions against the incitement to hatred that is likely to lead to a breach of the peace. In addition, there is the York University Act and University Senate policies. The resulting document summarizing York’s policy on free speech, he stated, was the consequence of an extensive public consultation process. The policy was  approved by the University’s Senate and Board of Governors on Dec. 14, 2018.

York University’s “Statement of Policy on Free Speech” defines the freedom of speech as “the right to seek, receive, share and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in a variety of forms, including orally, in writing, in print, and in the form of art or music, or through any other media of one’s choice.” Quoting the Task Force on Student Life, Learning & Community (2009), the policy states “the University has an unwavering commitment to fundamental values of free expression, free inquiry, and respect for genuine diversity of thought and opinion.”

It also states that students are responsible for upholding an atmosphere of civility, diversity, equity and respect in their interactions, and should strive to make the campus a safe place.

Sossin also referenced a recent Alberta Court of Appeal judgement that ruled that freedom of speech is protected by Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, there are conflicting judgments by the provincial courts of appeal and the question of Charter protection will ultimately have to be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Lorna Marsden

Marsden said that universities have changed dramatically from 19th century, when students lived in residence on campus and were able to socialize during their studies. She noted the degree of mutual understanding and tolerance of opposing views and opinions among students is very different today.

Most university students are commuters who spend limited time on the campus, she said, and have limited face-to-face interaction with other students unlike themselves. This is highly relevant because being able to see someone’s expressions, body language and reactions during a conversation is meaningful.

She pointed out that freedom of speech in this technological age is mediated through social media and electronic devices and virtual realities. Given the diversity of our modern society, where cultural and identity issues prevail, this complicates the practice of free speech, making it more difficult to learn more understanding and tolerance in daily life.

Saeed Rahnema

Rahnema focused on the international context and stated that we live in a rapidly changing and deteriorating world with wars, regional conflicts, authoritarianism, financial crises, a widening gap between rich and poor, and refugee crises. This has led to a growing sense of insecurity, helplessness, despair and anger, which has in turn led to the rise of right-wing populisms, neo-fascisms and the growth of religious fundamentalisms. He suggested that as hugely important and divisive issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, abortion rights or global warming might be, the more intense disagreements in most North American universities, including York, center around the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and the religious fundamentalisms.

When he taught the course “War and Peace in the Middle East,” he said he dealt with many conflicts and confrontations in and outside of the class. Yet, the most controversial topics were discussed, and students were encouraged to openly challenge one another, with the belief that some of the animosity was due to misinformation and lack of knowledge. Nonetheless, with the deterioration of the situation in the region, student clubs on both sides, and their communities, took hardened positions and reacted rapidly and frequently to ongoing daily events occurring in the Middle East.

Rahnema concluded that we should all fight against all regressive and reactionary efforts by violators of human rights and cherish and use our freedom of expression responsibly to combat the political and religious and business forces that want to limit freedom of expression.

Ian Greene

Universities, he said, can neither end the conflicts in the region, nor can they have access to the inner workings of the communities, the media, and the influence they have over students. The only thing that universities are capable of is promoting critical thinking, facilitating open forums for discussions, educating and challenging obscurantist views, and encouraging doubting and questioning.

Following the presentations, Greene moderated a lively discussion on a broad set of concerns and comments ranging from why the Government of Ontario chose to pursue the issue of free speech on university and college campuses, to whether the issue centered on concerns of personal safety, vulnerability, and dignity to questions of the importance and necessity of leadership within the higher education institutional setting on the inviolability of freedom of speech, as it functions within the law.

McLaughlin Lunch Talk Series adds two more events for February

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics, and enjoy a free lunch during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues through February with more events on the calendar.

Students who attend six or more Lunch Talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

The talks take place in the Senior Common Room, 140 McLaughlin College, Keele Campus.

Feb. 25 – The SNC-Lavalin Affair: A Canadian Scandal in Global Perspective

Presented by Ellen Gutterman, this event will examine how the SNC-Lavalin affair erupted in a firestorm of political controversy in Canada in February 2019, when former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his close advisers of pressuring her to allow the Quebec-based global engineering giant to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement, rather than face trial on charges it paid bribes to win lucrative contracts in Libya.

Ellen Gutterman

Looking back on the scandal one year later, the talk will analyse this dramatic episode in Canadian politics against the backdrop of Canada’s international legal obligations to control transnational bribery. These obligations stem from Canada’s multilateral commitments in the global governance of corruption.

The talk will highlight the attempt to use a deferred prosecution agreement in this case, as: an instance of international diffusion of legal practice from the United States; and, a legal strategy to avoid the political and financial costs of anti-corruption enforcement. It will conclude with some lessons from the SNC-Lavalin affair for the theory and practice of global governance, generally, and for Canadian foreign policy in the 21st century.

Gutterman is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Glendon College, York University. Her teaching and research interests are in the areas of international relations theory, international law, and global politics, with a specific interest in the global governance of transnational crime and corruption. Her research articles – on transnational advocacy, legitimacy, compliance, norms, extra-territorial enforcement, and other issues in the global governance of corruption – are published in such journals as Foreign Policy Analysis, Review of International Studies, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, European Political Science and elsewhere.

This event runs from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

Feb. 26 – UN World Day of Social Justice

This event is a panel presentation to Commemorate UN World Day of Social Justice, including panelists:

Richard W. Phidd is a (retired University of Guelph 1972-2005), professor, Public Administration and Public Policy, fellow adjunct professor, McLaughlin College, York University 2005-20. Phidd has authored several studies on public sector organizations and policy-making issues in Canada since the early 1970s.

Jennine Rawana is currently the Head of Calumet College and a faculty member in the Clinical Developmental Program in the Dept of Psychology at York University. She is also an executive member of the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research at York University and a supervising psychologist at the York University Psychology Clinic.

Barbara Jackman is an immigration lawyer who has specialized in the protection of the human rights of migrants and refugees, including arguing before the Supreme Court of Canada on test cases, such as Singh (1985) where the court recognized that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applied to non-citizens, not just citizens. She has been recognized by a number of communities and Canada by being given an Order of Canada.

James Simeon will moderate the event. He is head of McLaughlin College and an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University. He is a member-at-large of the Executive of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) and a past President of CARFMS.

This event is co-sponsored by the Office of the College Head, McLaughlin College, Centre of Public Policy and Law, Centre for Refugee Studies and the Department of Sociology.

This even runs from from 12 to 2 p.m.

To see a previously published story on the Feb. 27 event, see this YFile story.

Two servings of McLaughlin College Lunch Talks on the menu for February

McLaughlin College invites the York University community to come and listen to interesting speakers as they share their knowledge on a variety of topics, and enjoy a free lunch during the popular Lunch Talks Series. The long-running series continues into February with two events on the calendar.

Students who attend six or more Lunch Talks throughout the year will receive a Certificate of Participation, while those who attend 10 or more will receive a Certificate of Honour.

The talks take place in the Senior Common Room, 140 McLaughlin College, Keele Campus.

Feb. 12 – The Independence of the Senate: Principle, Policy, and Politics Presented by Marc Gold

Presented by Marc Gold, government representative in the senate, this talk examines how the Liberal party electoral platform of 2015 pledged to end the partisan nature of the Senate by creating “a new, non-partisan, merit-based process to advise the Prime Minister on Senate appointments.”

Marc Gold

The commitment of the government was repeated in the 2019 electoral platform and was reflected in the mandate letters of the president of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and the leader of the government in the House of Commons. Changes to the appointment process were introduced in the last parliament, and more than 50 new senators have been appointed since then. The senate now comprises a majority of senators who are not members of a political party caucus.

The talk will evaluate the changes that this has brought to the work of the senate, with special attention to the concepts of independence and partisanship as they relate to the constitutional role of the senate. It will conclude by offering some thoughts on the steps that still need to be taken.

Gold was appointed to the senate in November 2016 by Prime Minister Trudeau, and in January 2020 was appointed as the government representative in the senate. He previously served as liaison of the Independent Senators Group during the 42nd parliament. A full-time law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School from 1979-91, and an adjunct professor of Law at McGill University since 2003, Gold has published and taught in the areas of constitutional law, legal theory and the Charter of Rights. With extensive experience in the business world, he is an accredited mediator and has held many leadership roles in the not-for-profit sector.

The event takes place from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

Feb. 27 – The Third Anniversary of the Trump Administration

The third year of the Trump administration recently ended. America’s economy is booming, a new trade deal is in place between the United States, Mexico and Canada, the first phase of a trade deal with China has been negotiated, the American military has been rebuilt, and many other gains have been realized – but the president faces two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of congress. How are we to make sense of this?

This event will featured panelists:

  • Robert Drummond, professor emeritus, Department of Politics and School of Public Policy and Administration, York University
  • Ian Greene, professor emeritus, School of Public Policy and Administration, York University
  • David Leyton-Brown, professor emeritus, Department of Politics, York University
  • Stephen Newman, associate professor, Department of Political Science, York University
  • Benjamin Lowinsky, Faculty emeritus, cross appointed between the Department of Social Science and the Writing Department, teaches history, social and political thought and writing at York University

The moderator for this event is Philip MacEwen, who teaches in the Departments of Philosophy and Humanities and is coordinator of the York Collegium for Practical Ethics.

This event runs from 12 to 2 p.m.

Critical skills for school, life and great jobs to highlight ‘Common Read’ workshop

York University Professor Thomas Klassen will continue his popular “Common Read” series of workshops for first-year McLaughlin College students on Feb. 4 beginning at noon in the 140 McLaughlin College Senior Common Room. This will be the fourth such workshop being offered to the college’s first-year students this academic year and will focus primarily on “Practical Problem-Solving and Critical Skills.”

Thomas Klassen
Thomas Klassen

Studies show that first-year students are challenged, to varying degrees, in their transition to the rigors of university. The adjustment from high school or the labour force to higher education can be strenuous and grueling. It’s a new and unfamiliar learning environment for all first-year students, and perhaps more so for international students, who must develop a  number of new skills and abilities to meet the demands and expectations of their professors. Recent studies have shown that regardless of how well students may have performed in high school, they may struggle in their university studies because of a lack of essential academic skill sets.

With this in mind, prior to beginning their classes, all first-year McLaughlin students were asked to read Klassen’s highly acclaimed book with co-author and York University Professor John A. Dwyer, How to Succeed at University (And Get A Great Job!): Mastering the Critical Skills you Need for School, Work, and Life, that is available as a free download.

How to Succeed at University (And Get A Great Job!): Mastering the Critical Skills you Need for School, Work, and Life
How to Succeed at University (And Get A Great Job!): Mastering the Critical Skills you Need for School, Work, and Life

According to Klassen, first-year students are ready and eager to learn in order to successfully complete their degree programs and graduate, but they often need the guidance, encouragement, reinforcement and moral support to channel their energies and efforts appropriately. “I am thrilled to see how our first-year students make significant strides in their academic skill sets when they apply themselves with some personal guidance and support on the part of all of the faculty and staff at York University,” Klassen said. “This is why I am so delighted to be offering this “Common Read” series. It is a highly rewarding and engaging experience, and the students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to learn is infectious and carries over into my own research and teaching.”

“First-year students are on a very steep learning curve when they arrive at our College at York University,” McLaughlin College Head James C. Simeon points out. “They must learn their way around the campus, make new friends, forge constructive learning partnerships and communities with their class members, and acquire new research, analytical, writing and presentation skills in order to do well in their courses. One of our primary roles in the colleges and within the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies is to help ensure that first-year students make a smooth transition to their university studies by assisting them in acquiring the critical skill sets that will allow them to succeed.”

The “Common Read” series is intended to enhance students’ all-important first-year experience at the college and York University. All members of the University community are welcome to attend the workshops. A calendar of upcoming college events can be found on the McLaughlin College website.

McLaughlin College welcomes January students with matriculation ceremony and common read

Keele Campus
Keele Campus entrance

Every year, York University welcomes thousands of new students as part of its January intake of first-year and transfer students. While the number of new students who arrive in January is only a fraction of those who arrive in the Fall term, York University offers an especially warm welcome during the frosty cold Canadian winter. Winter term orientation activities are equally as exciting and fun, relevant and important, as activities for the Fall term orientation students.

James Simeon
James Simeon

McLaughlin College will welcome its new student January admits with its “Matriculation Ceremonies and Common Read” event on Jan. 7, 2020, in its Junior Common Room, 014 McLaughlin College, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The program for the matriculation ceremonies includes a welcome from the College Head, James C. Simeon, and introductions and welcome from the college student leaders: Alec Pichelli, president of the McLaughlin College Council; Gil  Segev, peer mentor network coordinator; and, Sebastian Moreno, the McLaughlin College Community Choir director.

McLaughlin College student club representatives will be in attendance from the more than 20 student clubs based at the college. Professor Thomas Klassen, author of this year’s common read, How to Succeed at University (and get a great job), co-authored with John Dwyer, will be present to lead January first-year students on a lesson that covers the critical skills necessary to be able to succeed at university. The first-year experience for new students transitioning to the rigors and demands of university studies is generally considered to be the most challenging. (The book is available as a free download).

As part of the McLaughlin College Matriculation Ceremonies, new first-year students are invited to sign the College Register. By doing so students are welcomed as part of the McLaughlin College community within York University.

“Our College Register is a record of all of those students who are enrolled in our affiliated college schools and departments and their programs: politics (Global Political Studies); sociology; social science (Criminology; Law and Society; Interdisciplinary Studies; Work and Labour Studies); and, public policy and administration,” said Simeon. “When our students sign the College Register they become part of the history of our college and part of the body of current and past students, and, now alumni, of our great college and university. They are welcomed to participate fully in all events and activities at our College and to contribute to the enrichment of College life at McLaughlin.”

The college provides the full panoply of student supports to help ensure that our students make a successful transition during their first-year of university studies through its peer mentor program, critical skills workshops and a full range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities at the college.

Klassen, one of the foremost authorities on student transitions and studying abroad, said many first-year students who are part of the January intake are international students who will be experiencing the additional challenge of adapting to a new society and learning environment.

“I will be incorporating a number of key messages and points to assist all our new international students who will be joining us at McLaughlin College at the start of the Winter term in my presentation on Jan. 7,” said Klassen, who is the co-author of a recent publication, The Essential Guide to Studying Abroad: From Success in the Classroom to a Fulfilling Career, with Christine Menges.

“The McLaughlin College ‘Matriculation Ceremonies and Common Read’ is a wonderful way to welcome our January admits to our college and it is the right way to start off the new year and the new Winter term,” said Simeon. “It is the time of new beginnings for all and, especially, those new students who will be joining us in the pursuit of their university studies, in preparation for their highly successful learning careers, at McLaughlin College and York University.”    

For more information on the “Matriculation Ceremonies and Common Read” event visit the McLaughlin College website.

First-year students receive an energetic welcome to the York U Pride

More than 4,000 students (corrected number) at York received an official welcome to the University. The first-year students and their Orientation leaders were the guests of honour at a special event held Sept. 3 in the York Lions Stadium on the Keele Campus. The University rolled out the red carpet, red Lions T-shirts, red and white fireworks and more.

York U Orientation Day Welcome event

Welcome Day is an annual tradition at York University and is one of the highlights of Orientation week. A blend of academic and social orientation, Welcome Day helps first-year students transition to life at the University. In a carefully curated academic program, first-year students met others in their cohort and senior students in their programs. They learned all about how to succeed in their studies, the myriad of supports available to them and they heard from peer mentors and their program professors. Tours were also an important part of the day and students were encouraged to explore the University and find their classrooms.

The official ceremony began at 6 p.m. with a parade of students into the stadium. Wearing their college colours and led by their Orientation leaders, the groups cheered and danced. They were then welcomed by representatives from the York Federation of Students and the Aboriginal Students’ Association at York University.

Following the official land acknowledgement of the Indigenous lands of the Keele and Glendon campuses, the Red Spirit Singers and Drum Group offered a moving First Nations welcome.

Students were then invited to participate in a new student convocation led by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. Senior members of the University’s academic leadership, accompanied by two bagpipers, entered the stadium for the new student convocation, which officially welcomes the entry of first-year students to the University. Lenton announced that first-year School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design student Haley Crespo was the winner of the “Free Tuition for One Year” contest.

The event continued with the presentation of a one-act play titled There Is No Maybe: A Play about Sex and Consent. The live performance featured the actors from York University’s acclaimed Vanier College Productions. There Is No Maybe explores the important issues surrounding consent on campus between university students and with respect to intimacy, if it is not clear, and it is not enthusiastic, it is not consent.

The play combats rape culture and teaches students what their options are when confronted with issues surrounding sexual violence. Staff in York University’s Centre for Sexual Violence, Response, Support & Education (The Centre) worked with Vanier College Productions to ensure the play involved cases of sexual violence that can happen on any university or college campus or in any situation. The play offered insight into gender, equality, the #MeToo movement, historical incidents and flashbacks as well as the many ways students could support and/or intervene in situations. It was received with loud applause by the students. Actors spoke from the heart and outlined the many supports available to students.

The first-year students and their leaders were treated to singing and dance performances.